Emma Baldwin ’13 rehabilitates zoo animals. Jacob Groselak ’15 is a dentist. Mayu Oya ’16 is a research assistant in a university neurology lab and a teacher. What do they have in common? All worked as tutors in Augustana’s Reading/Writing Center (RWC). Find out what they learned as tutors, and how that experience helps them in their careers today.
A biology major with a minor in Spanish, Emma Baldwin '13 is a keeper at The Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, Calif., mainly helping injured, sick or orphaned native desert animals. “I've also hand-raised a number of zoo collection animals, including a coyote, fennec foxes, ringtails and roadrunners,” Baldwin said.
While prowess in paper-writing may not seem important in a career handling wildlife, the adaptability skills learned in the RWC are still very much relevant to Baldwin, whose job comes with a quick learning curve. “Acknowledging that errors do happen, but with an accompanying increase in knowledge, has been comforting during the learning process here,” she explained. Baldwin has passed this idea on to the volunteers, interns and staff she’s trained at the zoo and believes it has made the team stronger.
A distinguishing feature of Augustana’s campus, the RWC is a space where any student can seek assistance from faculty members and trained peer tutors. These tutors are ready to help in any stage of the writing process for any purpose, be that in papers, personal statements, reading comprehension and more.
Baldwin’s First Year Inquiry professor recommended the RWC to her for her first on-campus job. “I had tutored biology while I was in high school and enjoyed that experience, so I thought maybe I could help students in college, too,” Baldwin said. The decision to apply definitely paid off...for Baldwin and those she tutored.
Jacob Groselak ’15 got his start with the RWC after seeking help from tutors in his first year at Augustana.
“Not only was I able to develop my own skills as a writer, a student and a team member, I was able to meet many incredible people,” Groselak said. Faculty, including Lucas Street, “helped shape me into an effective communicator by pushing me and encouraging me to step outside my comfort zone.”
After studying biology and pre-dentistry, Groselak graduated from the University of Illinois College of Dentistry in 2019 and regularly applies what he learned in the RWC while on the job at Groselak Family Dentistry in Lemont, Ill. “As a dentist, it’s helpful to be able to establish rapport with patients and accurately and succinctly explain different procedures,” he said.
Groselak encourages students to reach out to the RWC for more than just writing. “If you’re looking to build your interpersonal skills and your talents as a reader, writer and speaker, then tutoring for the RWC is a fun environment to grow while helping other students accomplish their own goals...Augustana, for me, would not have been the same without my experience in the RWC.”
Mayu Oya ’16 (pre-medicine, biology, neuroscience) says the RWC helped her connect to the diverse population of students at Augustana and grow from their experiences.
“Diversity doesn’t just mean different ethnicities and race,” Oya said. “It can also refer to differences in knowledge and experience. I was able to see that we all have different information and experiences to share.”
Understanding students’ cultures and backgrounds helped Oya work with them, and in turn provide better assistance on their projects. “Discussing a paper with someone you do not know might be intimidating or nerve-racking, and I’ve realized that every student interacts differently with their tutors.”
Oya also points out that “it is our job, as peer tutors, to make sure that we see and interpret body movement or tone of voice and to respond calmly and appropriately.” This communication skill translated into Oya’s job teaching first-grade Japanese and math on Saturday mornings, where reading children’s body language is important for crafting a positive learning environment.
During the week, Oya is a research assistant in the neurology department at the University of Iowa. She said the RWC can help with career paths like hers. Tutors helped Oya with her personal statement “and made multiple revisions to make it the best possible.”
“There were so many great memories in the RWC,” Oya said. “It was always a great stress-reliever to be able to enjoy being with my friends and colleagues.”
No matter their field or background, tutors often find that their experience in the Reading/Writing Center is deeper and more impactful than they ever imagined. Tutors foster skills that continue to help them in their professional careers and forge lasting connections at Augustana with peers and faculty. Baldwin, Groselak and Oya all agree—getting involved in the RWC was one of the best decisions they made at Augustana.
By Jack Harris ’20, Augustana Writers Bureau